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At the end of 1896, when Nielsen had finished the choral work Hymnus Amoris, he began to plan an opera. The text for Saul og David, written by Einar Christiansen, was ready in 1899. A few months seem to have passed before Nielsen started in earnest on the composition. Part of the opera was composed during his stay in Italy from December 1899 to June 1900. The work was finished in April 1901 and accepted for performance at The Royal Theatre in September. Parts of the work were performed at a concert in November 1900. See more about this work at The Royal Library